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Tracing the Chords Back to their Beginning

A fun and unique instrument, the first accordion was invented in 1822 by Christian Friedrick Ludwig Buschmann of Berlin, a German instrument maker who a year prior also created the first harmonica. Inspired by a Chinese woodwind reed instrument called the sheng, Buschmann designed and named his original model the "Handäoline". The name was changed in 1829 to "accordion" when a second inventor in Vienna made another version, this time with bass buttons controlling chords (hence the name accordion) in addition to the keyboard.

Bringing a distinctive sound and joy to many festivities, dances, love songs, and even Octoberfest, the accordion has been incorporated into the musical traditions of numerous cultures. It has crafted its way into many world music genres including polkas, jigs, Cajon music, waltzes, conjunto (from Mexico), bal-musette (from France), baião (from Brazil), boeremusiek (from South Africa), bothy band (from Scotland), divertimento (orchestral European), lilting (from Ireland/Scotland), klezmer, and Italian music.

How do Accordions Work?

An accordion can consist of keys, buttons, levers, reed blocks, reeds, valves, switches, springs, and its most outstanding component: collapsible bellows. All accordions function when the player pushes its collapsible bellows in and out, forcing air through a series of reeds to emit sound, as they simultaneously push down on keys/buttons on the treble end to play individual notes, and on the buttons on the bass end to play chord accompaniments. One or more straps allow the player to comfortably hold up the instrument as they serenade the streets or stage.

Types of Accordions

Though earlier models were mostly wooden and many accordions today still have wooden parts, modern accordions can also have metal reeds, plastic components, and either keys or buttons on the treble end panel. Over the years, more bass keys were added to some models to control more chords, switches were added for different voices and sound qualities, and chromatic accordions joined diatonic accordions on the market. Some instruments are also partially electronic for amplification purposes.

If you're a performer or recorder interested in attaining better sound production, check out our Spotlight article "How to Mic an Accordion" to find the best choices for your specific accordion.

According to Sam Ash

Often comprised of 100 pieces or more, most accordions are hand-assembled with care. All of the accordions we carry at Sam Ash feature that individual, high-quality craftsmanship, keeping authenticity in mind. We have chromatic and diatonic accordions tuned to a variety of keys, keyboard and button accordions, as well as plenty of color and design options from Hohner, Alacran, and SofiaMari. Within our selection, you'll also find travel-sized accordions, extra straps, instructional books for beginner to intermediate players, and more advanced music books. With a selection of hundreds of popular and traditional songs choose from, you're sure find something new that fits accordingly with your playing style.

If you're looking for a teacher, be sure to visit one of our Sam Ash Learning Centers, where we have highly-trained, professional music teachers on staff that are ready and eager to teach accordion lessons! (Lesson are available in select locations.)

If you need help finding just the right gear, give us a call at 1-800-472-6274, where real musicians are standing by with the musical knowledge and expertise to help you satisfy all your musical needs!